Jena Honeyman was born to teach, but not in the public school system where standardization appears to have removed hope of educating the individual. That’s why Honeyman — a native of Washington State who was raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York — is a perfect fit for the staff here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. Her recent experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail with friends convinced the 2011 graduate of the Univ. of North Carolina Wilmington to pursue a career that meshes the outdoors with education. She wants kids to know that they can learn and enjoy things without a bunch of money, as well as create memories to last a lifetime while preserving the world’s beauty for the next generation.
Get to know this self-described Amelia Earhart fan here, in our latest NCOAE Staff profile:
NCOAE: Tell us about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful?
Jena: For starters, we have to realize that everyday is meaningful. We will all be gone soon enough, so it’s important to live while we can. When teaching in the public school sector, a student wrote me a note that pulled at my heartstrings. I realized then it wasn’t a “could do” but that “I was” impacting lives. The note referred to the interesting approach I took to teaching and thanked me for the nature walks and classes in the sunshine. We all have the ability to connect as humans in so many beautiful ways if we just allow ourselves.
NCOAE: What do you think about when you’re alone on the trail?
Jena: In addition to being aware of my surroundings and safety, I wonder about random things such as… Do we have such an affinity for electronic music nowadays because we live in an age where we are so ‘linked in’ that our brains respond better to the frequency of a computer and not the soul of a bass string? Pretty random, right! And then I snap out of it and think about how I don’t want to be in love with a computer and its frequency, but instead with the soul of the artist. That’s when I realize that I’m an artist in just my walking and the way I move, and then I laugh at how ridiculous the thought is and I smile and hope I’m not the only one thinking such ridiculous things when alone on the trail.
NCOAE: What gets you excited?
Jena: SQUIRREL! Oh wait; that’s Penny my dog. But as you can sense, I’m as easily stoked as she is. Killer sunrises, sandy toes and warm coffee excite me, as does waking up to newly fallen snow — particularly of the light and fluffy variety, which is excellent for skiing. The warmth a wood stove gives off excites me (especially when tuned into the knowledge that I started, stoked and maintained that fire myself). Giving excites me. Giving a smile that creates one back or leads to laughter. Guiding someone to see a cliff, a view, or a vista and knowing that I am part of him or her forever because of that shared experience excites me.
NCOAE: On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?
Jena: You tell me… I drink Matte out of a gourd. I wake up at dawn to juggle people on my feet in Acro-yoga. I have dance parties alone in my room and I can spin fire without even having to think about it.
NCOAE: What was the last costume you wore?
Jena: I was Princess Peach from Mario Brothers – yogurt cup turned crown and all.
NCOAE: Who is your role model?
Jena: While I admire things about people and want to take them with me, I simply want to be me, and the best me at that. Things I admire and strive for include openness, love, adventure, intelligence and bravery. Women like Amelia Earhart, Oprah Winfrey and my Mom are pretty ‘rad’ in my book.
NCOAE: A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does she say and why is she there?
Jena: “Jena, calm down. I’m here to fix the fridge.”
NCOAE: What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
Jena: Oddly enough, my friends and I have a plan for if and when this happens. We all have roles in how we would sustain life and I was voted the teacher (there’s also a farmer, security guard and chef).
NCOAE: Tell us about one of your favorite moments in the last year.
Jena: I drove cross-country last fall with my best friend and my dog. We had no agenda except to ‘see with all our eyes.” I’ve always wanted to go to (insert name of city), and so we did! I realized then that life is actually very simple. Joshua Tree and Yosemite were amazing, and snowboarding on Christmas day at Tahoe was pure bliss. We watched bats in Austin, and learned that New Orleans’ streets are old and beautiful that New Mexicans are afraid of the rain, that desert tortoises really do exist, and that the world is a lot smaller than you think.